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P3 Visas – Precedent Appeals Decision on P-3 Nonimmigrant Visa Petition (culturally unique)

Great News for Arts groups coming to perform in the US. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) issued a binding precedent decision addressing the term “culturally unique” and its significance in the adjudication of P petitions for performing artists and entertainers.

The P visa was created to provide opportunities for aliens primarily performing as a group and not individually to tour in the US. The P visa, like the O1 visa, was also created by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990. In addition to covering performing and fine artists, the P1 also covers athletes.

It is important to make clear that the O1 visa (aliens of extraordinary ability) enables individuals to enter and work in their field of specialty, the P visa does not allow individuals to work unless they meet the criteria set in the law. This having been said P visa applicants do not have to have reached the pinnacle of their careers like O1 visa applicants, but P visa applicants do need to be nationally, or internationally known. For example, the group may have performed in other countries, or tour their own country and known to the community appreciating their artistic endeavors.

In the case at issue, the Skirball Cultural Center filed a P-3 nonimmigrant petition on behalf of a musical group from Argentina that was denied a performing artists’ visa for failing to establish that the group’s performance was “culturally unique” as required for this visa classification. Due to the unusually complex and novel issue and the likelihood that the same issue could arise in future decisions, the decision was recommended for review.

USCIS’s AAO approved the petition after its review of the entire record, which included expert written testimony and corroborating evidence on behalf of the musical group. The regulatory definition of “culturally unique” requires USCIS to make a case-by-case factual determination.

The decision clarifies that a “culturally unique” style of art or entertainment is not limited to traditional art forms, but may include artistic expression that is deemed to be a hybrid or fusion of more than one culture or region.

The decision is a positive step in allowing a broader range of groups to enter the US and perform. If you have any questions about the P3 visa, feel free to contact us.